You are viewing the content for Friday 3 February 2006

Opsona gets research boost

By Brian O’Mahony, Chief Business Correspondent
OPSONA Therapeutics is set to announce a major link-up with a multinational drugs company that will facilitate significant medical research in an area of auto-immune diseases.

Already the group, which is just over a year old, is close to clinically testing a new drug to combat multiple sclerosis. It is radical in terms of modern medicine, said Mark Heffernan, group chief executive, whose company was among the 75 start-ups announced yesterday by Enterprise Ireland.

"We are looking at a sub-set of immune cells called T-regulatory cells and we are working on how to turn those on," he said.

These act as brakes to the immune system and when turned on halt the immune system. That could be a vital new way of preventing MS from taking hold because it is heightened immune systems that are most often the cause of such debilitating diseases as MS.

The attractiveness of the drug is that it tackles the cause rather than the effects of the disease, he said. The drug could be on the market within six years and human trials may start this time next year. The group has raised over €6.25 million to fund its research.

Opsona originated in Trinity College, Dublin. Kingston Mills, Luke O’Neill and Dermot Kelleher have put several years' work into the radical MS treatment.